Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

What do midfielders bring to the party?

DavidClarke1When you pick midfielders for your team you need them to be able to tackle well, hit accurate long balls and shoot at goal.

It’s a hard position to fill which is why players like Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are so important to their team.

You need someone who is more than just a link up player. They must be able to break up attacks and provide some level of defence for the players behind them. Youth teams are vulnerable to attacks through the midfield and must tackle to force play away and give defenders more space, and time, to see where the danger is coming from.

Watch these two clips of good midfield play, they play at different levels but both can do what you want to see in a midfielder.


Should this have been a red card?

Fouls and red cards have been in the news these last couple of weeks in the English Premier League.

Frank Lampard for Chelsea and Rory Delap for Stoke both got red card – one for dangerous play, and one for kicking the ball at an opponent when he was on the floor.

The problem is should we now have a video referee for these sendings off so that it is fair to all players? After all Frank Lampard going off helped Liverpool to beat Chelsea – it shouldn’t have been a red card so why should the whole team and its supporters suffer?

However, in the same game Jose Bosingwa actually kicks Yossi Benayoun in the back but the card wasn’t shown. Red for a player winning the ball but not for a deliberate kick… hmmm something wrong here.

Have a look at this, should it have been a red card?

 Soccer Skills and Drills

The goal from this corner should have been given

I love this corner – very clever and something to think about for our youth teams.

My only worry about using it is that if an official at a top premiership game can disallow the goal for not taking the corner correctly what will an official at a youth game do?

Watch the clip. In the Manchester United v Chelsea game on Sunday, Rooney walks to the corner  – plays the ball – but it looks to the opposition like he has just left the ball for someone else to take the corner. Ryan Giggs goes over and then accelerates away with the ball, crosses it and Ronaldo scores. The Chelsea players just stand and watch. Clever.

But the linesman flags for the ball not being played from the correct place even though it had.

How annoying that the players try something different, and score a goal only for a linesman to flag for a foul corner. Too clever. Where Rooney fell down was that he should have said something to the linesman as he played it.

Practice your free-kicks like Frank Lampard

I once paid a visit to the ground of Chelsea, Stamford Bridge, to have a look around. I was lucky enough to witness Frank Lampard with his trainer on the Stamford Bridge pitch.

He was standing with his back to goal, and the trainer was feeding the ball in behind him. On his shout of “turn” Lampard turned and shot at the goal.

At first he was hitting the ball miles past the post or over the bar, but after a while he was turning and hitting both corners. When I looked out of the window an hour later he was still doing it.

I write a lot for Better Soccer Coaching about putting in time at practice sessions, and there was Frank Lampard doing just what I was writing about.

Watch this video for a good way to get your players practicing shooting into the top corners of the net:

Nike beats Pepsi 1-0 in soccer match

The latest Pepsi advert got me thinking this week. I’ve been watching a lot of great soccer with English clubs dominating the semi finals of the Champions League. And I guess Pepsi chose the players they thought would be dominating soccer over the next few months. But of the players in the advert only Messi and Lampard were actually playing in those matches.

Ronaldinho’s team Barcelona was in the semi finals but he wasn’t. Apparently he took his shirt off the other day and everyone was amazed by how flabby he was. He’s unfit, going out on the town at night and it isn’t Pepsi Cola that he’s drinking. How many times has he been player of the year? And look at him now, at 28 he’s unfit and sitting on the bench for club and country.

Then up pops Thierry Henry in the advert looking like James Bond. Unfortunately Henry has had a poor season at Barcelona. Rumours have it that he moans about coming too deep for the ball and that he is often isolated up front. Surely a forward like Henry must revel in the service he gets from some of the most gifted players in the game. Pepsi obviously think so, but Henry is not happy and is already talking about going back to Arsene Wenger.

Fabregas in the advert is shown, for some reason, playing the guitar . Well perhaps that’s because Arsenal got knocked out by Liverpool. He was having a great season until a couple of months ago when he and his attractive Arsenal team hit a bad patch and their season fizzled out.

Frank Lampard is in there and he, like Messi has had a good season. They are the two who stand out. But Messi has been injured and walked the last 10 minutes of the game when Barcelona were knocked out by Manchester United. In the advert Lampard volleys the ball onto a desert island, where all the players end up. And who gives them a bottle of Pepsi each? Well David Beckham of course, say no more.

On the other hand Nike have done a fantastic new advert, which lasted the whole of the advert break in the Manchester United-Barcelona game. It is shown through the eyes of a non-league player who scores a free kick for his local team and is then spotted by Arsene Wenger. What is great about this advert is that when he is put on his backside by Ronaldo he is shown going through a strict training régime and working very hard so next time Ronaldo will not be able to do it. Each time he achieves something by training and hard work.(Okay yes Roanldinho is in this as well but he is a Nike sponsored player.) Then our new superstar gets kissed by Fabregas after he scores for Arsenal in Europe and then by a succession of girlfriends – and finally he scores a free-kick for Holland.

My two sons were mesmerized by the Nike advert but they sniggered at the Pepsi one. Nike suggested that by training and effort you can become a better player which is what I am trying to get across in Better Soccer Coaching every week. Pepsi on the other hand suggests you have to drink Pepsi to make you a better player.

What young soccer players want to see is that by playing and training and by following training sessions like those in Better Soccer Coaching you can become better. They also want a bit of that vision and hope that one day they will be the player spotted playing for the local team and whisked away to fame and fortune. Surely as coaches the one thing that we can give our players is the means to live out those dreams… on the training pitch, on match days, lifting trophies… so thanks Nike, you’ve helped us out…

Maybe we could do a similar advert for Better Soccer Coaching. Now where did that publisher go…

David Clarke, editor, Better Soccer Coaching